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Will suspend obligations under INF unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance: US

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Washington, Dec 7 :  The United States will suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance, the Trump Administration has said.

In a conference call with reporters from Moscow on Thursday, US Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman said Russia “must return to full and verifiable compliance”.

The failure to do so will result in the demise of the INF Treaty, he warned. “But we should be clear. Russia has not shown any indication, so far, that it seeks to return to full compliance,” Huntsman said.

“The United States is declaring that Russia’s ongoing violation of the INF Treaty constitutes a material breach of the treaty. The United States will suspend its obligations under the treaty, effective 60 days from December 4th, which is when Secretary (of State, Mike) Pompeo, just a couple of days ago, laid it out in very clear terms, unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance,” the Ambassador said.

“This also does not mean we are walking away from arms control. We are doing this to preserve the viability and integrity of arms control agreements more broadly. We remain committed to arms control. But we need a reliable partner, and do not have one in Russia on INF or, for that matter, on other treaties that it’s violating,” Huntsman said.

Andrea Thompson, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, said such a decision really demonstrated to all nations, both friend and foe, that the Trump Administration took its arms control treaty seriously.

“We’ve confronted Russia multiple times over the course of the five-plus years and the 30 detailed engagements. And raised it with them. We confronted them with the evidence of the violation, they feigned ignorance,” she said.

Russia, she alleged, went from denying the missile’s existence, to now claiming it is in compliance. “We’ve exercised patience with this across two administrations. The ambassador mentioned over 30 occasions since 2013. We’ve raised it at the highest levels in the Putin regime that a failure to return to the status quo would have consequences, and they’ve continued to violate the treaty,” Thompson added.

She said the first responsibility of the Trump Administration was to protect the safety and security of the American people, and that promise relied upon a credible military deterrent.

“With our INF Treaty, it doesn’t bind the likes of China or Iran or North Korea. If we want credible arms control agreements, we’ve got to demonstrate that our treaties are worth the paper they’re written on,” she said.

Thompson said it was very clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin broke the terms of the INF Treaty. “He’s done other violations, which I’m sure we’ll talk about,” she said.

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